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Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph ‘still in shock’ over suspension that forced him to miss Game 7

May 4, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Zach Randolph AP

The Grizzlies fought admirably for the first half of their eventual Game 7 loss to the Thunder, but realistically, they had a very small chance of pulling off the victory with Zach Randolph out of the lineup.

The frustrating thing for Memphis fans is that only Randolph himself is to blame, for landing a punch to the face of Steven Adams late in Game 6 that caused the league to hand down a suspension the very next day.

It was a more unusual situation than most like it, in that essentially no one saw this coming. This play completely flew under the radar until the league dropped the hammer, which may explain Randolph’s extended state of surprise.

From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (via HoopsHype):

The punishment for punching Thunder center Steven Adams came out of nowhere. Randolph’s head is still spinning. “It hurts,” Randolph said from a hotel less than a mile from Chesapeake Energy Arena about 90 minutes before tip-off. “I apologized to the guys. I feel like I let them down. I’ve got a lot of emotions going on right now, and rightfully so. When I woke up the next morning (after Game 6), I didn’t have any idea I was going to get suspended. I’m upset about it. I’m still in shock.”

“I want to apologize to my fans and the organization,” Randolph said. “This was totally unexpected. I wasn’t even thinking about that play. Normally, if you do something in a game like get a technical or get into something, you think about it all night. I didn’t think about it. I was just upset about the loss. Not being able to play in Game 7 never crossed my mind.”

It wasn’t much of a punch, but it was a blow to the head nonetheless, and the league made the right call in issuing the suspension. Randolph’s remorse is likely of little comfort to the fans or his teammates, as his actions caused his team to squander a legitimate chance to upend the Thunder and advance to the second round.

It’s worth noting that Randolph may have played his final game for the Grizzlies. He has a player option for $16.9 million for next season, but can forego that to become an unrestricted free agent, thereby securing more guaranteed money over a long-term deal.

Randolph has been great for the Grizzlies during his five seasons there. It would be a shame for his time in Memphis to end like this.

  1. fnc111 - May 4, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Don’t punch people in the face if you want to play.

  2. sylpkt - May 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Thunder Fan here.

    Didn’t seem like he meant to hit Adams in the jaw, it looked like he was trying to jack him in the shoulder as they run down the court and just missed.

    It’s a shame that such a great series came down to a game 7 with a questionable suspension, but rules is rules I guess. I have a lot of respect for Memphis and how they play and it sucks for them that ZBo was out & Conley was “hobbled”. I was expecting another epic game 7 and possibly another OT.

    All said though, I’m sure the Grizzles weren’t disappointed that Westbrook couldn’t play last year and they took advantage of it. Great series Memphis, hopefully next year, you guys are on the other side of the bracket.

    • kb2408 - May 4, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      Good points. The way OKC played last night I don’t think a healthy Conley or having Z-Bo in the lineup would’ve mattered much. When they play like that they’re nearly impossible to beat. Portland has a heck of a 1-2 punch in Lillard and Aldrich, Miami still has a good 1-2 punch with LBJ/Wade (if the later is healthy) but there is not a better combo in the league than KD and Russell when they’re on their games. If Russell focuses more on being a facilitator, like he did last night, OKC will win it all this season. When he’s efficient he’s un-guardable.

      • tomasekradek - May 4, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        well, when he’s efficient

      • guyaneserj - May 5, 2014 at 8:25 AM

        you mentioned a healthy DWade kb24, if DWade is healthy, I think you might wanna revise your who’s the best 1-2 punch! A healthy DWade & LBJ is better than Westbrook/KD

  3. jzone954 - May 4, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    It happens. Have to control those emotions bro. Especially with what was on the line? C’mon

  4. rcali - May 4, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Basketball, not boxing, Mr. Randolph. You just don’t go around punching people in a NBA playoff game. Had it been the other way around Steven Adams might be looking at a lifetime ban.

  5. Gordon - May 4, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Really good player, but based on that response, he’s not winning a Mensa award any time soon.

    Guys (Suns players) have been suspended for just stepping off the bench during an altercation (thanks to Ron Artest). How he could think that punching a guy in the neck wouldn’t result in a suspension is mind boggling.

    Still, I’d take this guy on my team in a heartbeat.

  6. redbaronx - May 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    I think Randolph should give the Grizzlies a discount and resign. He just blew their season away for no reason.

    • Vir Publius - May 4, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      I think he should give OKC a discount and flip sides for next season. That way he’ll have a shot at winning a title.

  7. metrocritical - May 4, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    After watching the punch a half dozen times or so, it would appear that Randolph does not appear to have a boxing or MMA career ahead of him and if he can’t check his primitive, infantile emotions, his NBA future will lead to more suspensions than playoff victories.

    • rawgator06 - May 4, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      Racist alert

    • ranfan12 - May 4, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      you say that as if he has repeated offenses. whens the last time you heard something bad about him?

  8. ProBasketballPundit - May 4, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    I know the NBA can’t win nobody what it decides but I’d like to see them use some discretion in these scenarios. Spirit, not letter, of the law. It wasn’t a punch. Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended against the Spurs in the playoffs for leaving the bench during an incident EVEN THOUGH Tony Parker & Duncan left the bench earlier in the same game when Manu got flipped but I guess they didn’t consider that incident enough…. ugh. Just don’t suspend dudes in the playoffs unless they force you to.

  9. 00millerfortune - May 4, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    He was surprised that he got suspended for punching an opposing player in the face, WITH Adam Silver riding high fresh off his Sterling ban Media home run….really Zachary, REALLY????

  10. william1939 - May 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I agree under league rules this was the correct call. But the league is as inconsistent as their officials. They jump all over this but totally ignore the dirty play by clippers big baby Davis that put the Warrior’s Center Jermaine out for the final game.

  11. electstat - May 5, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    all those apologies but none to the player he punched. typical.

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